TORONTO — Designing book covers is nothing new for Kerrin Hands, creative director of Hands Design. The local designer has worked on myriad projects for Penguin Publishing Canada and through the use of bold typography and eye-catching illustrations has carved a recognizable style evident in novels such as Me, Chi and Bruce Lee by Brian Preston and Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx.
For the studio’s latest project, Hands was tasked with breathing new life into Benny Cooperman, the cherished Canadian detective series penned by Toronto author Howard Engel.
The 11 book series has been re-released by Penguin Canada with a new design that, in fitting with Hands’ aesthetic, proves a marked departure from the stodgy stereotypes of detective novels past.
Detective series gets illustrative overhaul
“I had the idea of a kind of Saul Bass style, as he’s renowned for his kind of detective style movie credits and things he’s done,” says Hands. “I though it fit in quite well, a quirky fun version of that detective feel. The style of writing is kind of a Dick Tracy-style writing anyway where it’s more poking fun at the genre, kind of riding along with it in a fun romp kind of way. I thought I’d do the same with the design by riding along with it and having a bit of fun with it.”
Designing the books, which is an entire collection numbered one through 11 each featuring a distinct colour and illustration, was a different process for Hands than simply creating a one-off cover.
“You have to think about how everything will fit together as a whole,” explained Hands. “With a single book you can sort of go in any tangent you think is right but with these kinds of collection you have to think in some sort of uniformity so they fit into a common design … I tied it together mainly with typography and illustration style, whereas a lot of these kind of books often are very rigid. I chose a looser style because the books are more fun.” Contact: www.handsdesign.ca
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